Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (2024)

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For a number of years, I was really happy to recommend the BondiX to a lot of runners. But it slowly disappeared because they were working on something even better in the background. This Hoka Skyward X review is here to help you understand this mega stack height carbon plate shoe and who will love it and who might not.

Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (1)

One of the things I loved hearing from HOKA in past discussions was that they don’t think speed shoes or technology should be limited to the front of the pack. Why shouldn’t every runner enjoy the benefits of what they are learning and developing?

Some would say there’s no value in the carbon plate if you are running slower than an 8 minute mile. I would say from coaching thousands of runners that I’ve seen this to be an inaccurate statement. (Plus, spoiler alert my legs felt so good after a longer run in these!)

The Hoka Skyward X is a vastly different shoe than the new HOKA Cielo X1 that I recently reviewed. But that doesn’t mean worse! It means it’s built for a different kind of runner. The majority of runners aren’t running sub 3 hour marathons and still deserve a shoe.

You’ll notice I go back to the Bondi for comparison here because many folks have tried it and that’s a good way to gauge if you’ll like the Skyward X. Checkout my complete list of best HOKA running shoes to compare them all.

As always, I note that I am super honest in my reviews about what works, doesn’t work and of course I have preferences in shoes after 20+ years running and testing hundreds! So take what seems most valuable to you from here and decide if it’s a shoe worth adding to your rotation.

Without further ado, let’s talk more about this fun lightweight daily trainer.

Hoka Skyward X Review

Is this the highest stack height running shoe? No, but it’s pretty darn close! The Adidas Adizero Prime X is 50mm, while they Skyward X is clocking in at 48mm. Just a few years ago this would have seemed absurd, remember how people looked at HOKA a decade ago for being “so big”.

But now, more cushion and more stack is the trend.

I admit that as a coach, I was concerned about this for awhile. However, according to Podiatrist Richard Blake, “Running in maximalist shoes can help alleviate the pain with conditions and injuries like metatarsalgia, capsulitis, neuromas, sesamoid injuries and hallux limitus/rigidus symptoms.”Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (2)

So now that we’ve put that concern behind us, let’s talk about some max cushion!

This shoe is best for middle and back of the pack runners who are looking for a fast and responsive shoe to take on long-distance races or interval training. Would this be my preferred shoe when cranking out 6:30 reps definitely not. But am I all about it for a 20 mile run, you bet.

While many shoes promote something like a meta-rocker to help propel you from heel to forefoot, I will say that I notice it most in downhill running. I had that same sensation with the BondiX as well.

The other thing I noticed was the stack height didn’t faze me. In testing this on multiple runs, I included the treadmill where I often loathe max cushioned shoes and didn’t think twice about it.

Again, Hoka knows how to create a stable shoe. It’s got a wide base and really hugs the foot, so I never felt my foot moving around or in any way unstable despite the height.

From running easy pace down to half marathon pace miles, the shoe felt really good. Again, if I were racing an 8:30 pace for the half marathon, I would probably go with something more like the Saucony Endorphin Pro 4. BUT for a marathon runner over 4:30 or on lots of those long training runs, I really see the value.

The question is always is it worth paying extra for the carbon plate if you’re in the middle or back of the pack. Here I think you’re getting more from the technology than just that.

It’s how they’ve given you the PEBA midsole foam on top of the H-Curve plate and the EVA bottom foam. There’s a sandwich for the ages with two supercritical foams. YES the high end stuff for the everyday runner.


I’ve tested pretty much all of the X or carbon plate shoes from HOKA and a few were a swing and a miss, a few I really enjoy. This is going in the really enjoy pile.

  • Neutral Carbon Plated Running shoe
  • Max Cushion
  • 5 mm drop (48 mm stack on men’s)
  • 9.2oz (W8) / 11.3oz (M10)
  • $225
  • See all HOKA Skyward X avalable (early launch only 1 color)

Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (3)

Here you can see that there is a once again a cut out under the midfoot. This is oncean opportunity to cut weight on a shoe where they have added so much stack and cushion. The only potential problem here is getting a rock stuck in the middle of your run…so far I’ve not had this happen, but have had enough shoes with openings to know it can.

The other important thing to note is the exposed cushion on the sole.

Again in dropping some weight, there is not rubber over the entire portion of the bottom. This could mean issues with traction on wet days or the potential for faster breakdown of the cushion depending on running surface.

100% we know these are not a trail shoe, but even those of you running on crushed gravel I’d probably say skip this shoe for those runs.


Overall fit is plenty roomy, I would say often carbon shoes tend to feel more narrow and that’s not the case here. You’re still getting a nice lightly cushioned tongue and a massive heel counter which is part of helping you feel stable. In fact, they have even dubbed it the “Deep Active Foot Frame”.

I didn’t notice the heel coming up on my back side, which I was concerned about. In fact, I didn’t even need to do heel lock lacing, which is a standard for me in most shoes.Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (4)

I think a lot of what makes this shoe feel stable is not only their standard wide base, but the unique shape used for the carbon plate.

The plate’s H-shaped design serves various functions. On the wide medial side, it offers early landing support, while the narrower rail on the lateral side functions as a crash pad upon landing. Additionally, the rising carbon lip prevents excessive sinking and outward movement of the heel.

  • True to size
  • A bouncy cushioned feel
  • Highest stack height, but still stable
  • Good room in the toebox
  • Tongue isn’t super thick to take away room and not so thin there are other issues
  • Tongue is not attached, but didn’t notice it moving around
Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (5)

Skyward X vs Bondi

Is this just a souped up version of the Bondi? No….it’s way better.

I’ve always called the Bondi one of the plushest running shoes ever. Which is great in it’s own way, but also has a flaw for runners which is that you can sink in to the cushion as you fatigue. This leads to low back pain while running…so I’ve actually transitioned to calling it one of my top shoes for walking or even run/walk.

But with the Skyward X there is more bounce a little more sturdiness to the shoe that I think prevents this and gives you more speed.

Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (6)

Who Will Like the Skyward X?

If you already know that you like the fit of Hoka, this is a win. And if you ever tried the BondiX and enjoyed it, this is next level.

  • It’s a roomier shoe
  • Feels really light weight because of the bounce (it’s definitely not a lightweight running shoe)
  • Not max cushioned with that plush feel you sink in to
  • Soft cushion that still allows for speed
  • A shoe that feels stable, but is not a stability shoe

Who Will Not Like the Skyward X?

If you’re looking for a bouncy carbon plate type of foam for super speed days, that’s not what you’ll be getting here. This is a great cushioned shoe with some speed to it for the everyday runner who wants more from their half to marathon shoe.

If you want a lightweight tempo run shoe, consider the Mach 6. Right now that’s probably my go to shoe of choice from Hoka. In the past few years, the Clifton and Bondi just didn’t keep pace with what I’ve been testing from other brands for the comfort of the cushion.

All right, I hope this Hoka Skyward X review helped you with making an informed shoe choice!!

Looking for more shoe reviews?

  • Hoka Clifton Vs Bondi
  • Most Cushioned Running Shoes
  • Top Lightweight Running Shoes

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Hoka Skyward X Review | The Everyday Runner's Carbon Shoe (2024)
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